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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Microsoft pushes harder into IoT (and looks to monetize its operating system)

By Nick Flaherty

Microsoft has announced a new paid programme to build intelligent devices for the Internet of Things (IoT) using its Azure cloud capability.

“For Microsoft, it’s more than just screens and devices; it’s about creating services and experiences with technology that support ambitions and aspirations,” said Nick Parker, corporate vice president, Consumer and Device Sales. "Imagine the devices and experiences we can create with ubiquitous computing, infused with AI and connected to the cloud. This is such an incredible time for the industry.”

To do this it has launched a new, paid, service to make it easier to manage updates for the OS, apps, settings and OEM-specific files; includes Device Health Attestation (DHA); and is backed with 10 years of support.

Windows 10 IoT Core is an edition of Windows 10 designed for building smart things and optimized to power intelligent edge devices.

Windows 10 IoT Core Services builds on the Windows 10 IoT Core operating system that was first released in 2015 and has been adopted by companies such as Johnson ControlsAskey, and Misty Robotics.

However the Core Services will be a paid offering for IoT devices. The free edition of Windows 10 IoT Core will still be available via the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC).

Windows 10 IoT Core Services provides 10 years of support via the Windows Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) to keep device security up to date. Devices using the LTSC release won’t receive feature updates, enabling them to focus on stability by minimizing changes to the base operating system. Microsoft typically offers new LTSC releases every two to three years, with each release supported over a 10-year lifecycle.

It also includes update control with the newly announced Device Update Center (DUC) which provides the ability to create, customize, and control device updates. These updates are distributed by the same Content Distribution Network (CDN) as Windows Update which is used daily by millions of Windows customers around the world. Updates can be applied to the operating system, device drivers, as well as OEM-specific applications and files. Updates can be flighted to test devices prior to broader distribution.

Device Health Attestation (DHA) provides hardware-enabled security. Evaluating the trustworthiness of a device at boot is essential for a trusted IoT system and a device cannot attest to its own trustworthiness. Instead, this must be done by an external entity such as DHA Azure cloud service. This service evaluates device health and can be combined with a device management system, such as Azure IoT Device Management. This allows developers to re-image a device, denying network access or creating a service ticket.

There is currently a limited preview of the service with a wider rollout in July 2018 and general availability later this year.

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